We know ants are incredibly capable creatures. They live in vast, interconnected colonies, can lift several times their own body weight, and coordinate their activity with incredible precision. Ants are in many cases so small that they seem like they would just be a nuisance, but in fact ants can compromise the structural stability of your home.
What is an Ant?
Ants are small, six legged insects that usually live in a complex social colony. They can be found all over the world. There are more than 12,000 ant species found in the United States alone. Of those seven hundred species approximately twenty-five infest homes.
The ant’s body is made of three distinct sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. Ants, like other insects, have an exoskeleton which means that their skeleton is on the outside and is not covered by skin, muscles, and tissue like humans.
The ant’s head has several important parts. Ant eyes are similar to flies’ eyes. They have many small eyes connected together which enables them to see movement very well. An ant’s head also contains two feelers. The feelers help ants communicate. Ants communicate by releasing pheromones (chemicals that have different smells). Other ants use feelers to pick up these smells as signals. Lastly, the head has two strong pinchers which are used to dig, carry food, and help the ant defend itself.
An ant’s thorax is the part of the body where all six legs are attached. At the end of each leg is a sharp claw that helps the ant climb and hang onto objects. Lastly, the abdomen is the part of the ant’s body that contains the poison sack.
Ants are related to wasps; some types of ants have stingers that can inflict a very painful sting.
It’s estimated that there are upwards of 10,000,000,000,000,000 ants on Earth. That means that, for every human, there are about a million ants. The total weight of all ants in the world is at least equal to, but possibly larger, than the weight of all humans.
The biggest concern with ant infestations within your home is the potential for disease. Ants are constantly moving back and forth, indoors and back out, picking up germs along the way. This means that bacteria living on the ground or in your pipes can surface and spread if ants cross your food.
They can sometimes indirectly compromise your health and safety. Since ants crawl around in many spaces, they can pick up various types of germs including E. coli and deposit them on your food. Consumption of this food will definitely lead to health problems including gastroenteritis.
Enter a Dwelling
Ant workers (foragers) come inside your home or business through holes, cracks and gaps in the exterior of the building. Seal locations where wires, conduit or pipes enter the house to avoid them from entering.
Looking for Food and Water
Ants are just as interested in your water as they are your food. Ants will both drink water they come across and transport some back to the colony to nourish the queen. When ant-proofing your home, don’t just secure your food items — make sure the surfaces in your home, sinks included, are kept dry.
A fire ant has a sting that delivers a toxin which can cause your blood vessels to dilate, leading to low blood pressure and eventually death. The fact that they often attack in packs means that this effects is accelerated. Fortunately, they are easy to spot and such cases are rare.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that more than 5 billion dollars is spent annually on control, damage, and medical treatments due to red imported fire ants (RIFA). These ants are invasive pests in the U.S. that are originally from South America. These ants also cause around 750 million dollars in damage to agriculture in the U.S., which includes the cost of veterinarian bills, crop loss and loss of livestock.
Carpenter ants can be found throughout the U.S. and are named for their ability to excavate nests in wood, creating smooth tunnels or galleries. Unlike termites that eat wood, carpenter ants hollow out wood, leaving behind small piles of sawdust.
When carpenter ants attack your home, they can create conditions that will force you to make very costly repairs. Carpenter ants can cause significant property damage by tunneling through wood in homes to build nests. They mostly tunnel through wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold, but will also nest inside dry, undamaged wood. The extent and cost of the damage caused by carpenter ants usually depends on the number of nests inside the structure and how long they’ve been active; but tunneling through support beams can be especially detrimental even if there are not a significant number of nests.
Over time, they tend to eat up the wood supporting the house, which may eventually lead to collapse of part of the home. This will likely harm you if you are in the house.
Maricopa Harvester Ant
One ant species is the most venomous insect in the world. It is the Maricopa harvester ant and it has a sting that is equivalent to 12 honey bees! It’s the most common harvester ant in Arizona, but can also be found in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Colorado. Their sting can cause incredible pain that can last for hours. They grab onto their victims with their mandibles, allowing them to sting numerous times. When they sting, they also release a pheromone that signals other ants in the area to attack. Word of advice: stay away from these ants!
You can have an ant infestation for a year and potentially never see the same ant twice. Ant colonies are built for longevity and can survive as long as the queen continues to populate the community, but some worker ants, on the other hand, only have a life span of up to a month.
When controlling ant invasions in your home, it’s important to focus on eliminating the source — not just the current wave making its way across your dinner table.
Ants can stay alive underwater for up to 24 hours. Ants breathe through spiracles, or small holes found on their bodies, rather than lungs. So, although an ant may appear lifeless underwater, if there is enough oxygen flowing through the spiracles when the water evaporates, the ant comes back to life!
The most important part of ant extermination is successfully identifying which ant species has invaded the home or business. Some ants feed on food, some are attracted to wood, and some actually cause painful bites. It is important to call in a professional to identify them and develop a specific plan that helps you get rid of them and to provide future prevention treatments to keep them away. Creating a defense system is one of the best ways to control and kill ants and keep them away.
Drive-Bye Exterminators offers home and commercial pest control services in Clearwater, Florida, and the surrounding areas. Family owned and operated for over 25 years, Drive-Bye Exterminators has state certified inspectors and exterminators provide roach, subterranean termite, dry wood termite, roaches, spider, ant and flea services to both commercial and residential clients. Whether a business owner needs help getting rid of a termite infestation, or a homeowner wants to rid their kitchen of ants, Drive-Bye Exterminators offers each client the same level of professionalism and excellence.
Request a FREE Pest Control or Termite Inspection today with the Professionals of Drive-Bye Exterminators. Contact Us Today at 727-787-2127.